Saturday, October 11, 2008

Satoko's Pottery

Hello everyone! I’m Satoko Barash and this is my first posting on this blog.
I worked for Hoyman-Browe studio in 2005 for a few months and got to know Megan Mitchel there.
I received a BA in Studio Art from Sonoma State University in 2005 and continue working with clay at home while taking classes at Mendocino Junior College in Ukiah. I started Wood-firing with Doug Browe, Jan Hoyman and Megan in 2004 and participated in building a two-chambered wood firing kiln with them in 2006. Currently, I work in my small home studio with three outside kilns. The third kiln is a soda-kiln and I have not quite finished with its construction. I’ve been renting a soda or a salt kiln at Mendocino Art Center and firing my pieces there since 2006. Megan taught me how to fire these kilns. I took a workshop with Chris Staley this summer at the art center, also. Recently, I was accepted as an exhibiting member for ACGA: Association of Ceramic and Glass Artists in California and plan on taking part in the ACGA Palo Alto Show in July 2009. I alternate between sculpture and functional craft, feeling pulled back and forth between the two poles. I still take classes at Mendocino JC, but since I graduated Sonoma State, I don’t get much critique opportunities. I’d appreciate any feedback.

Here is a little story behind the two leg teapots: I grew up in Japan and when I was older, studied for two years in England. In both counties, tea drinking is very much a part of one’s life. When happy, tired, sad or upset, tea provides us with warmth and comfort. A teapot holds something hot, warm or cold. It is, for me, a symbol of human relationship such as family, friends and lovers, thus, “Tea party Inside a Teapot.”

stacking bowls
(soda fired)
leaf serving boat
(wood fired)

round serving dish
(salt fired)

(soda fired)

(wood fired)

tamari dispenser set
(soda fired)


sheilabythebeach said...

Understanding the reason for the two leg teapot makes it even more special!

critial ceramics said...

It is great to see your work! I also see the teapots much differently knowing your sentiments about tea. Which foot is the spout? Do you work with an iron rich clay or does the firing change the clay into that lovely brown color? I find the lack of glaze on the teapots visually suits them.
What is the scale of the teapot? I am curious to know how the content/statement would change if you increased the size of the teapot to make it even more of a sculptural object...
The stacked bowls are lovely - wonderful flashing and incised feet.
You mentioned you felt torn between sculptural and functional work. What about adding a few details at a smaller scale (kind of like the feet on the teapot) on your functional objects? If you had particular stories or notions about bowls and plates and/or eating in general - you could add some three-dimensional information on the functional forms to make them more personal to you?
Nice work.

critial ceramics said...

Hi Satoko,

I hope things are going well; I've been missing coastal firings!

I'm glad that you posted your work. Since I know your work well, the thing that I think is missing from your posting is your violins! I think those are really great pieces.

Regarding the pots- I agree with Juliane that the bowls are great. To me, those feel like the most refined as far as form.
Everything that you posted (aside from the teapots) uses the same glaze and flashing combo. Although I like the salt/soda surface, it starts to feel a little monotonous to me, used pot after pot. The pots feel fairly resolved, but I wonder if it might help you to try to un-resolve them some - to make some that have a more experimental approach. Different glazes, slips etc.

As well, I think it helps to think some about what your goals are for your work. Do you want to make fairly straight forward functional work? Do you want to make sculptural work that is based on functional form? How do you want to spend your time in the studio, and how to you want your work to be used/ shown?

OK, I hope that is helpful and please feel free to ask me if you have any questions.


Kip said...

Hi Satoko – Thanks so much for joining our blog, I love the opportunity to see new ceramic work! I was immediately drawn to the leg teapots – the second one in particular. With the second pot, I feel like the arrangement of the legs is slightly more graceful and proportionally effective. Have you ever tried making entire legs (from toes to thighs) and making those handles (thighs coming out of the base of the pot, feet attached to the top of the pot)? I suppose this would push your pots more toward function, but it might be interesting to see how having more variation in the length of the legs would change the feel of these pieces.

I would also consider increasing the size of the body of your teapots a bit. As they are now, the legs tend to overwhelm the body a bit. A slight increase in the size of the body would create more of a balance between the pot and the legs.

You are getting some beautiful surfaces on your soda fired and wood fired pots. I am always won over with the tenmoku that breaks yellow in combination with the soft oranges and red blushing (the bowl is gorgeous!). Have you ever tried putting your legs on forms other than teapots? I would be interested to see how attaching some feet (say as handles on the oval dish or on the tamari set) would change things visually. Maybe even just stamping some feet into your forms would be a way to connect your more sculptural work with your functional pots.

Thanks for sharing!

satoko said...

Thank you so much for the thoughtful feedback and your time.

Julian asked where the spouts were. The leg closest to the left corner on Teapot #1 is the spout. You can see a little bit of a hole in the foot. With #2, it is the one you see on the far left. The clay body I use is an iron rich clay called Black Mountain. I fire it to cone 10 in reduction to get the dark shiny surface. I spray lightly with Temmoku sometimes. The scale of these teapots is around 12”W x 7”D x 8”H. I’ve been playing around with the size of my legs, but changing the size of the teapot itself would be an interesting idea. I’ll try that. Kip suggested this, also. I have put feet on my cups and bowls before, but I wasn’t too happy with them. If I had a specific story to go with the feet, as Julian suggested, it would be more meaningful for me as well as for the user/viewer.

Megan, I chose not to include violins because I felt that I still don’t own them. I’d like to work more on the violins themselves and figure out a way to install them on a wall and make it more of a conceptual work. Right now, they are beautiful because of the shape of the original violin and the surface resulting from the type of firing I chose: salt, soda and/or wood. Megan commented that using the same glaze and flashing slip is making my work monotonous. I consciously stayed with this combination, so that my work would be recognizable. However, “monotonous” was exactly how I looked at my body of work for the September Art Walk at Graces and Hoyman-Browe Gallery. I appreciated Megan’s comment about finding the goals for my work. I’ve just come back from SOFA Chicago, so I’m very much influenced by the works I saw there. My distant goal would be to show my work, but I really enjoy the idea of my dishes being used and be part of someone’s everyday life. I suppose I’m still in the process of searching for my voice, but I will be thinking about my goal when I work in the future. I agree that a more experimental approach is exactly what I need.
Thank you again for your comments.